If you are not familiar with this glorious tradition, it's a perfect year to start. This is the tenth anniversary of the program that gets comic books into the hands of the masses. The idea was born in 2001, and the first Free Comic Book Day took place in 2002.
It works like this:
Distributors sell a selection of comics (usually picked for their broad audience appeal) to sell to retailers for relatively cheap. Retailers work to promote FCBD with special signings or shindigs. The level of promotion definitely plays a part in the success of the event for each store. Over the past six years, thirty countries have participated and retailers all over the world have given away 12 million plus copies of the special edition comics.
Find participating stores in your area with this handy locator on the FCBD website! The number of available free comics per person differs from store to store. Once you locate a store I recommend checking out their website and social media pages to see if they have any special activities for the day. Many locations will have costumed characters, creator signings, charity events, and Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles worked with Archaia to bring a full sized Skeksis (their FCBD offering has a Dark Crystal story)! Don't be surprised to find sales on back issues or hardcovers either. Free comics and signings or sketches and deals?! I don't know how anyone can resist.
The FCBD site also has a list of comics that will be available. Last year many of the issues I picked up on FCBD ended up on my pull list or on my shelf when the hardcover was released (Love and Capes, The Sixth Gun, and Artifacts among others). I can't wait to see what new stories I discover this year.
EDIT: Can't get to your local comic book store or don't have one within a short drive? Graphicly is offering lots of free comics digitally!